Gigabyte GV-R465D2-1GI Radeon HD 4650 Review
Did you say AGP?
Believe it or not, not everyone religiously upgrades their graphics card and CPU every year or two. Some may not wish to upgrade their PC regularly due to costs, while others may be satisfied with the performance of their current PCs: perhaps theyíre just now getting tired of games like Counter-Strike.
Whatever the reason, there are a number of users out there still gaming happily on AGP-based systems. Many of them just donít want to shell out the money for a brand new PCI Express PC when their current rig suits them just fine. After all, the GPU plays a huge role in gaming performance right? Considering that most games are either single or dual-threaded, why spend money that you donít have on a new CPU, motherboard, GPU, and memory, when all you really need to absolutely have is a strong GPU.
To cater to this segment of the graphics market, ATI and their board partners have quietly continued to provide the latest mainstream Radeon GPUs to the public. Itís actually a rather shrewd move on their part, as NVIDIA abandoned the AGP space some time ago with the GeForce 7 generation of GPUs. Those AGP-based GeForce 7800 and 7600 GPUs are all long gone now, leaving the space to ATI alone. Right now on Newegg and other online retailers you can find AGP Radeon cards based on ATIís Radeon 3650 and 3850 GPUs, and just recently the first AGP-based 4650 cards hit retailers shelves.
Gigabyte is one of the first manufacturers to ship an AGP Radeon 4650; their GV-R465D2-1GI Radeon HD 4650 board has been available on Newegg
for a few weeks now. Priced at $94.99, the card has earned a 4/5 star rating so far. Letís see how the board compares to its PCI Express equivalent.
Radeon 4650 hardware
For starters, the GV-R465D2-1GI ships with the same RV730 GPU that first appeared on the Radeon 4670 last year. RV730 features 320 stream processors along with 32 texture units providing up to 19.2Gigatexels/sec peak texture fill rate. ATI clocks the Radeon 4650 at 600MHz Ė this is the same speed Gigabyte employs for the GV-R465D2-1GI.
The memory subsystem on Gigabyteís AGP card is carried over unchanged from its PCI Express cousin as well. All 4650 cards ship with the same 128-bit DDR2 memory interface, with ATIís reference specifications calling for a minimum of 400MHz DDR2 (800MHz effective) memory (although many PCIe cards ship with much faster memory).
Gigabyte follows these specs to the letter, with the GV-R465D2-1GI shipping with 1GB of DDR2 memory operating at 400MHz, yielding up to 12.8GB/sec of peak memory bandwidth.
The card is a rather distinctive animal in the sense that itís an AGP card with DVI, VGA, and HDMI outputs, making it appealing whether youíre looking to upgrade an HTPC and need the HDMI output (Gigabyte says that the card doesnít support HDMI audio output in Windows Vista), or youíre a gamer with a DVI or VGA display who is looking to upgrade to something faster. The HDMI connector is even gold plated, ensuring the highest signal quality.
The GV-R465D2-1GI ships with a dual-slot heatsink/fan unit that runs quietly and does a good job of keeping the RV730 GPU cool. As you can see in the photos, the cardís cooler is made entirely from aluminum. Gigabyte then employs an 80mm fan for cooling. Our AGP testbed is so loud that we couldnít get good readings that isolate the noise of the Gigabyte card, but it seemed to run quietly for the most part.
Nestled just behind the fan is a six-pin PCIe power connector. This connector is required in order for the card to operate. Here we should also note that some of you with older AGP systems may need to upgrade your power supply for this card: our 300W Sparkle PSU wasnít powerful enough for the card to run with complete stability. Gigabyte doesnít provide system requirements, but ATI lists a 400W power supply requirement for the Radeon 4600 series.
The Rialto bridge chip that provides AGP functionality is nestled on the back of the board sans heatsink. It sits just underneath the GPU. Without anything protecting the chip, weíve got to wonder if someone may accidentally damage it while handling the card.
The one downside of the GV-R465D2-1GI is that itís so new it doesnít work with ATIís current Catalyst 9.6 driver thatís available to the public. Fortunately the driver Gigabyte provides on the Gigabyte CD is based on Catalyst version 8.62, the same codebase as ATIís current Catalyst 9.6 driver. The key difference is this is an older beta driver build of Catalyst 9.6, whereas the driver on AMDís website is WHQL-certified. The beta Gigabyte driver also lacks support for ATI Overdrive, so overclocking isnít supported at this time Ė none of the 3rd party utilities we normally use for OCíing properly detect the card.
Hopefully ATI will add support for AGP Radeon 4650 cards into their monthly Catalyst driver releases.